The bishops have been urged by Catholic businessman Declan Ganley to reopen churches and begin Masses from Saturday in an act of peaceful civil disobedience, as “every other avenue has been tried”.
“We have to, we’re not going to get our cases heard in anything like a timely manner,” Mr Ganley told The Irish Catholic. “We are being prevented from participating in public worship every single day.”
Mr Ganley’s comments came as his challenge to the constitutionality on restrictions on public worship was delayed again until May 18.
He said that without action, “this is a can that’s going to keep being kicked” and that civil disobedience is “the only way”.
“We can’t get access to the courts – and there may be very good reasons for that – we need to resort to civil disobedience,” Mr Ganley said. “I’m a bottom of the rung layman, but I am willing to participate in civil disobedience.
“With a mask, with everything cleaned, with one way arrangements – we need to be careful and sensible in how we do this, reduce numbers in the churches. But we need to go back and start defying the State.”
Mr Ganley said that in his personal opinion, “the Irish Catholic Bishops should order their parishes to reopen from this Saturday forward for the holding of covid mitigated public worship, with priests & stewards as well as the congregants all aware we face possible arrest & prosecution”.
He continued, adding that “every avenue has been tried at this point, every avenue. It was bad back in October, it’s only got worse”.
The move would not be without risk for the Church, Mr Ganley acknowledged.
“It’s possible the charitable status of the Church will be threatened,” he said. “The State may crack down very hard on the Church, but let’s make them do it, make them show their hand.”